Hutchinson, John Hely- (1757–1832), 2nd earl of Donoughmore , soldier, politician, and diplomat, was born 15 May 1757, second son of John Hely-Hutchinson (qv), provost of TCD, and his wife Christiana, Baroness Donoughmore, daughter of Abraham Nickson of Munny, Co. Wicklow. After attending Eton (1767–73), he entered Magdalen College, Oxford, but does not seem to have graduated. In 1774 he was commissioned cornet in the 18th Light Dragoons, and by 1783 he had risen to lieutenant-colonel in command of the 77th Foot. This regiment mutinied at Portsmouth in 1783 when ordered to embark for India and was disbanded; Hutchinson was placed on half-pay. He had been elected MP for Lanesborough, Co. Longford (1776–83), and in 1783 he purchased the seat of Taghmon, Co. Wexford (1783–90). He also represented Cork city (1790–1802). In parliament he followed the lead of his father and his brothers Richard (qv) and Christopher (qv) and consistently supported catholic relief. He was particularly close to Christopher, who later accompanied him on military campaigns and diplomatic missions.
While on half-pay, he travelled to the Continent and studied tactics at the military college at Strasbourg. He was in France in 1792 when the revolutionary armies began their European campaign, and managed to gain valuable information on the organisation of the French army. In 1793 he was a volunteer in the duke of York's army and an aide-de-camp to Gen. Sir Ralph Abercromby (qv). In the following year he was appointed to command the 94th Foot, and in May 1796 he was promoted to major-general and appointed to the Irish staff. He served throughout the 1798 rebellion and in late August was in command at Castlebar as Gen. Humbert's (qv) Franco–Irish army approached the town. After his troops were routed on 27 August in the worst defeat suffered by crown forces in Ireland during 1798, Hutchinson was reprimanded by Lord Cornwallis (qv) for advancing to such a forward position with untried men. In his defence Hutchinson pointed out that he had received no instructions from Cornwallis, and had thought it unwise to abandon most of Mayo to a numerically inferior enemy. Cornwallis refused Hutchinson's offer to resign his staff appointment, noting that his misjudgment was an understandable lapse for an inexperienced officer. However, Cornwallis later privately confided to a friend: ‘I tremble for poor Hutchinson; he is a sensible man, but he is no general’ (Cornwallis corr., iii, 360).
The fact that a more senior officer, Gen. Lake (qv), had arrived at Castlebar on the night before the battle shielded Hutchinson from some of the blame, and the defeat seems to have had little adverse effect on his career. He subsequently served in the Low Countries, and in December 1800 was appointed to command Abercromby's first division in Egypt. When Abercromby was mortally wounded at Alexandria (21 March 1801), Hely-Hutchinson succeeded him as commander-in-chief, and secured the surrender of the French forces in Cairo (June 1801) and took Alexandria (September). He proved to be a shrewd negotiator and offered the French commanders, Generals Menou and Belliard, reasonable terms of surrender, ensuring their withdrawal from Egypt by the end of October 1801. For his services in Egypt, Hely-Hutchinson received the thanks of parliament (March, November 1801), was made a KB (May), raised to the peerage as Baron Hutchinson of Alexandria and Knocklofty, Co. Tipperary (December 1801), and granted a pension of £2,000 a year. In 1803 he was promoted to lieutenant-general.
In November 1806 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to the Russian and Prussian courts. After visiting their armies in the field, he went to St Petersburg, negotiating several subsidiary treaties before the signing of the treaty of Tilsit in 1807. Further honours followed and he was promoted to full general in 1813 and made a GCB in 1814. Hutchinson was a friend of the prince of Wales (later George IV) from 1802, and occasionally advised him on military matters. He travelled to Saint-Omer in June 1820 to offer Queen Caroline an annual allowance of £50,000 on condition that she renounce all claims to royal title. She refused, and her trial in the house of lords in August 1820 greatly embarrassed the king. Eventually Hutchinson was estranged from George IV because of his continued support for catholic emancipation. In August 1825, on the death of his elder brother Richard, he succeeded as 2nd earl of Donoughmore. He was senior grand warden of the grand lodge of Irish freemasons (1791–1823), a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (1806), and devoted his last years to scholarly pursuits. He lived at Knocklofty, Co. Tipperary, Palmerstown, Co. Dublin, and Nassau St., Dublin. He died unmarried 6 July 1832 at Knocklofty. There are collections of his papers in the royal archives at Windsor, the BL, and PRONI.
He was succeeded by his nephew, John Hely-Hutchinson (1787–1851), 3rd earl of Donoughmore , soldier and MP, who was born in Wexford, eldest son of the Hon. Francis Hely-Hutchinson (qv), barrister and MP, and his wife Frances Wilhemina Nixon. He entered the army (28 September 1807), served with the Grenadier Guards in the Peninsular war, and was awarded the Peninsular war medal with the Corunna clasp. He was promoted to captain (19 November 1812), and fought in the Waterloo campaign of 1815. After the second restoration of Louis XVIII, he assisted Sir Robert Wilson and Lt. Bruce to help the French general Lavalette, who was under arrest on a charge of treason, to escape. Despite public and judicial sympathy, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment and deprived of his commission, but was soon reinstated. In May 1819 he retired on half-pay. He was elected whig MP for Co. Tipperary (1826–30, 1831–2), served as lord lieutenant of Co. Tipperary (1832–51), and in July 1832 succeeded as 3rd earl. Created a knight of St Patrick (8 April 1834), he was appointed to the privy council (17 November). He was also senior grand warden of the freemasons of Ireland and a commissioner of charitable donations and bequests (1844). He died 14 September 1851 at Palmerston House, Dublin.
He married first (15 June 1822) Margaret (d. 1825), daughter of Luke Gardiner (qv), 1st Viscount Mountjoy. They had two children, Richard John (d. 1856), who succeeded him as 4th earl of Donoughmore, and Margaret (d. 1828). On 5 September 1827 he married Barbara, daughter of Lt.-col. William Reynell of Castle Reynell, Co. Westmeath; they had one son and three daughters.